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Because of You by Jessica ScottLaura C’s review of Because of You by Jessica Scott
Contemporary Romance published by Loveswept 14 Nov 11

This is a great read, if a tough one. When Shane Garrison wakes up in the hospital, all he can remember is being blown up, and all he can think about is getting back to Iraq and taking care of his men. But it’s not going to happen. And nothing, not even the presence of Jen St. James, the woman he hasn’t been able to forget since meeting her the night before he was deployed, is enough to soothe him.

I really enjoyed this book. I put off reading it for quite a while because I was afraid the subject matter—Jen’s a breast cancer survivor and Shane is a wounded vet—would subsume the romance. And, in a sense, it did for me: I found Jen difficult to get a handle on because of her reactions to the fact that she’d had a mastectomy. Perhaps I was meant to feel that way, but it still distanced me a bit from the character.

She knew how hard it was to look at her own missing pieces. After all this time, her hand was still shaking at the thought of what she was about to see. She braced herself and pulled her bra away. The silicone form flopped to the floor with a splat, but she didn’t bend to pick it up. This. This was what she avoided. The scar had long ago faded from angry red, but it still held her gaze. The raised pink scar and the indent in her skin where her nipple had once been cut across her chest like a jagged ravine through a field. The stark contrast between the swell of her right breast and the jagged, hollow left. Her other breast, still full and round, still with a perfect pink nipple, stood in the shadow of that scar and the missing flesh. How long had she been hiding from what she was? The silicone mound gave the illusion that she was still a whole woman. Who had she been trying to fool? No one but herself.

Shane seems more consistent to me. His reaction to his injuries is what I would expect. He’s angry, furious even, frustrated, depressed…and he can’t see how he’s going to fit into the only life he’s ever known. His reactions do more than tug at the heartstrings, they haul them around with a hydraulic winch. There’s no way you can read Shane’s story and not feel for him.

A slow burn started in his guts, and then it sparked into something that was at once odd and familiar and terrifying. Responsibility. By taking this single sheet of paper, he was resuming responsibility, no matter how bastardized, for one of his men.

But as soon as the feeling came, so did the realization of all that had changed. He couldn’t do this, He couldn’t make sure that Osterman made it to formation or take him for a run when he finally got a prosthetic leg. He couldn’t do anything but sit in PT with him. Who was he kidding? Carponti was right about him not being a leader anymore. And this little sheet of paper wasn’t going to give that back to him. He stared down at it. It mocked him for everything he no longer was. He was lying to himself and everyone around him. He had nothing left to give. All he could do now was take.

There’s a thread of humor in the story in the person of Shane’s buddy Vic Carponti, who Jen calls to bring Shane out of his funk. The fact that she understands that Shane needs someone like Vic, someone other than her, is actually a refreshing change from many romance novels where the hero/heroine seem to believe all the other needs is them.

There’s also a secondary storyline between Jen’s friend, Laura, and her husband. This is unresolved at the end of the book, clearly waiting for a followup, which kind of irks me. I feel like this book could have been bigger, encompassed both stories, along with the secondary suspense plot that also remains unresolved at the end of this book.

But, that said, the romance between Jen and Shane is very satisfying. Shane’s realization is perfectly true to life:

He’d fallen for her and he didn’t even know when it had happened. He just knew that today, she’d pushed her way into his personal hell and shoved him out of it. And he was so damn grateful that she was there.

That’s what I want in a book. Plenty of angst suffered by well-developed characters, followed by a happy ending. It’s amazing how rarely I get it, so I’m very pleased to have finally read Because of You and I look forward to Ms. Scott’s next book.

Grade: A-


Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again—until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels—for the first time in a long time—like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty—it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected—her deepest desire.

Read an excerpt.